Two off-duty Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives, a BSO firefighter and a civilian rescued two boaters off the coast of Hallandale Beach, more than 14 hours after the couple had fallen off their vessel in Key Largo.
While out fishing for dolphins Saturday morning, BSO firefighter Keith Silvis and the three other men spotted the stranded couple seven miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
“When we heard their story, it was pretty impressive,” said Silvis, who helped pull 50-year-old Sean McGovern and 52-year-old Mellisa Morris from the Atlantic Ocean.
“[They were] pretty distraught, tired,” Silvis continued. “You could tell they had been in the water for a long time.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the couple had fallen off their 30-foot Island Hopper boat in Key Largo at around 6 p.m. Friday. Officials said McGovern and Morris were treading water without any life vests or means to communicate with nearby boaters.
“The female, when we brought her on board, her legs were actually cramped,” said rescuer Steve Couch. “She couldn’t even move them. We had to actually lift her out of the water.”
Couch said that McGovern told him they had been stung by jellyfish. “The male, Sean, he said that he ran into three or four [jellyfish] during the course of the evening,” he said.
The two BSO detectives, who did not want to show their faces on camera, said they felt they were at the right place, at the right time. “Another 30 minutes to an hour, it probably wouldn’t have the same outcome as it did today, because they were in pretty bad shape,” said BSO Detective Josh Webb. “They were both cramping pretty bad, they were both very dehydrated, very tired. They appeared [to be] mildly hypothermic.”
“We originally thought they were fish,” said BSO Detective James White. “We got up close, and once we realized that they were in trouble, we brought them on board.”
Couch said the fact that the couple was able to survive the night as they drifted north is astounding. “Personally, I was surprised,” he said. “I was amazed that they lasted that long in the water. I’ve just never seen something like that before.”
“Well, maybe God put us over there to save them, you know? Who knows why?” said Webb.
Coast Guard officials said McGovern and Morris are expected to be OK.